Say it ain’t so, Mike

It’s unbelievable, unimaginable, that a football player, or anyone associated with that noble sport, would be sullied with the savagery and cruelty of dog fighting. In dog fighting, players are raised and trained to attack other players on the principle that winning is the only thing. Successful fighters are given a luxurious life, with the best of food and comfortable living conditions – until someone better comes along, at which point they are killed, a splendid economy of pension costs. This is inevitable because they are given no life skills outside the game itself, such as chasing frisbees or being tickled behind the ears or playing in the lawn sprinkler with kids, and a ruthless selection and winnowing process reduces their numbers by factors of ten along the way. The whole enterprise is carried on for the amusement of a fan base that gibbers after physical attack and injury, the while reciting pieties about sportsmanship and skill. In dogfighting, the paying audience has no interest whatever in the moral standing or personal qualities of the contestants, as long as they fight and win. Finally, dogfighting supports an industry of illegal gambling embroiled with organized crime and therefore with drugs, prostitution, and the like.

Nothing in this vicious and revolting enterprise has the slightest relationship to professional football; it’s simply night and day. The Falcons’ quarterback is a scholar-athlete who needed only half the normal time for a college education at a school “with a strong academic program” some of which he may have personally experienced. He has an impeccable personal history, including a gift of fully 0.00006 of his Falcon’s contract (a full eighth of the value of his two years of full-ride athletic scholarship) to his alma mater on the occasion of the massacre there last year. A true gentleman of sport, and obviously an innocent victim of a frameup. Or misled by longtime friends…yeah, that’s it: it’s his wonderful personal loyalty to his homeboys he’s being punished for. If by some chance there’s the least truth to the terrible things federal prosecutors are saying about him, I take comfort in his imminent prison conversion to one or another of the tub-thumping religions so useful to people in this situation and, bathed in the healing waters of pious cant, a speedy return to holding up his team’s bottom line. A profit center is a terrible thing to waste.

Author: Michael O'Hare

Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley, Michael O'Hare was raised in New York City and trained at Harvard as an architect and structural engineer. Diverted from an honest career designing buildings by the offer of a job in which he could think about anything he wanted to and spend his time with very smart and curious young people, he fell among economists and such like, and continues to benefit from their generosity with on-the-job social science training. He has followed the process and principles of design into "nonphysical environments" such as production processes in organizations, regulation, and information management and published a variety of research in environmental policy, government policy towards the arts, and management, with special interests in energy, facility siting, information and perceptions in public choice and work environments, and policy design. His current research is focused on transportation biofuels and their effects on global land use, food security, and international trade; regulatory policy in the face of scientific uncertainty; and, after a three-decade hiatus, on NIMBY conflicts afflicting high speed rail right-of-way and nuclear waste disposal sites. He is also a regular writer on pedagogy, especially teaching in professional education, and co-edited the "Curriculum and Case Notes" section of the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. Between faculty appointments at the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, he was director of policy analysis at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs. He has had visiting appointments at Università Bocconi in Milan and the National University of Singapore and teaches regularly in the Goldman School's executive (mid-career) programs. At GSPP, O'Hare has taught a studio course in Program and Policy Design, Arts and Cultural Policy, Public Management, the pedagogy course for graduate student instructors, Quantitative Methods, Environmental Policy, and the introduction to public policy for its undergraduate minor, which he supervises. Generally, he considers himself the school's resident expert in any subject in which there is no such thing as real expertise (a recent project concerned the governance and design of California county fairs), but is secure in the distinction of being the only faculty member with a metal lathe in his basement and a 4×5 Ebony view camera. At the moment, he would rather be making something with his hands than writing this blurb.